BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2019/47

Nearly all of the wheat and maize crops have been gathered, along with the bulk of the rice crop. Based on October estimates, China’s agriculture ministry reports that the grain harvest this year should exceed 650 million metric tons, putting it on par with other harvests of recent years. FAO figures show that China is the world’s largest producer of rice (28 % of global production) and wheat (17 %), as well as the second-largest producer of maize (23 %) and fourth-largest soybean producer (4 %).

Bumper harvests have diminished China’s food imports and increased its exports. China is mainly a net importer of soybeans and barley (it imports also small amounts of wheat and maize relative to its own production). Rice is China’s main export crop. Chinese policy calls for self-sufficiency in staple grains.

Meat production contracted by 8 % y-o-y in January-September. The African swine fever virus has decimated pork production, causing pork prices to skyrocket. Poultry, beef and lamb prices have also risen sharply, with production increasing by 2–10 % y-o-y. China is the world’s largest producer of pork (46 % of global production), as well as lamb & mutton (25 % global share). It is also the world’s third-largest producer of chicken (12 %) and beef (10 %).

With the contraction in pork production and higher meat prices, China has turned to buying more meat from abroad. China imported 35 % more meat in the first nine months of this year than in the same period last year. At the same time, meat exports have fallen. The trend impacts all types of meat. The sharpest increases in meat imports were seen in beef (up 53 %), chicken (48 %) and pork (44 %).